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NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology Dean Donald Peterson, Ph.D., will chair a new ASTM International committee to develop industry standards in the growing field of exoskeletons and exosuits.
The committee was formed in September in a meeting attended by dozens of representatives of industry, trade associations and government agencies from around the globe. It was officially approved by ASTM on Oct. 16.
The committee will initially focus on five areas, each with its own subcommittee: design and manufacturing; human factors and ergonomics; task performance and environmental considerations; maintenance and disposal; and security and information technology.
In an article in the November-December issue of ASTM Standardization News, Peterson said the development of an international set of standards will benefit manufacturers of exosuits and exoskeletons by providing consistent design specifications.
“Standards will allow exoskeleton and exosuit companies to enjoy both short- and long-term cost benefits, particularly through access to intellectual property and technologies for use in product research and development,” he said. “I believe the infrastructure that will be established from these consensus industry standards will make innovation feasible and lead to continuous ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and domestic and global competition.”
Exosuits and exoskeletons are machines a person wears to assist with physical activity. Unlike robots, which are autonomous, an exosuit, powered or unpowered, performs in response to its wearer. Applications for the machines include making repetitive tasks or heavy lifting easier and less fatiguing for workers and helping patients in physical therapy retrain atrophied muscles.